Rome-Moscow-Berlin: Diplomatic Triangle Around Tiraspol

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Foreign ambassadors one after another visit the unrecognized republic The past week was eventful in the unrecognized Transdniestria. Experts note a marked increase in diplomatic activity on the Dniester. Previously, the RTA has already drawn attention to the fact that the recent agreements between Chisinau and Tiraspol on participation of cars from Transdniestria in the international traffic using neutral license plates, or, for example, de facto recognition of the Transdniestrian diplomas through the apostille mechanism, allow us to talk about the cautious step-by-step reinforcing of the Transdniestria’s status in the system of international relations. It is revealing that just a week after the chief negotiators of Chisinau and Tiraspol reported on implementation of the agreement on license plates, the Special Representative of the OSCE CiO, ex-Foreign Minister of Italy Franco Frattini arrived in the region. According to local media, he personally handed over the first neutral license plates to the Transdniestrian cars. From the point of view of public policy, this can be considered a demonstration of the significance of both the event itself and in general the very agreement on license plates, which many experts and diplomats called “breakthrough”. It should be understood that Franco Frattini in this case demonstrates approval not only by the OSCE, but also by Italy – it is no coincidence that Italian Ambassador to Moldova V. Biagiotti also arrived in Tiraspol with him. Successes in the Transdniestrian settlement will somehow be “chalked up” for a certain European capital, and therefore Rome’s attention to one more success in the negotiations between Tiraspol and Chisinau is not accidental. European countries are visibly stepping up their efforts in the field of settling the Transdniestrian conflict. RTA experts noted that in the near future, rapprochement of the positions of Germany and Russia is possible in Transdniestria, caused by the desire of Russia and the EU to qualitatively review approaches to the problem of unsettled conflicts. One of the signals that Berlin and Moscow will take the Transdniestrian settlement process under joint control is the appointment of the German diplomat Claus Neukirch as head of the OSCE mission in Moldova. Before, this position was traditionally taken by employees of the US State Department. It is more interesting that Claus Neukirch made his first visit to Tiraspol as part of the delegation of the senior Italian comrade Franco Frattini, apparently also hoping to begin his mandate as head of the OSCE Mission with something positive. According to RTA sources close to the OSCE office in Chisinau, Claus Neukirch will again visit Tiraspol tomorrow – Berlin does not want to waste time and seek to bring new practical successes in the Transdniestrian file. Experts point out reasonably that Germany consistently strives to strengthen its role in the Transdniestrian settlement process. For example, in 2016, the joint efforts of German and Russian diplomats allowed the negotiation process to move from the dead point and resume activities of the Permanent Conference in the 5+2 format after a two-year break (Moldova and Transdniestria – the parties, Russia, Ukraine, OSCE – mediators, USA and EU – observers). Germany’s activity on the banks of the Dniester is well founded: Berlin and Moscow have long been looking for ways of rapprochement after the Ukrainian crisis. According to the RTA regular author, Sergei Ceban, against the backdrop of the growing contradictions between the European Union and the United States, the loss of German business because of Washington’s sanctions policy to Russia is extremely palpable and pushes the leading political forces of Germany to find a way out of the situation, certainly with saving face. Therefore, the expert believes, the interests of Russia and Germany at this stage fairly coincide: we need an obvious and tangible result, an alternative to Washington’s policy, a kind of “success story” that will become the clean sheet from which the Russian-German relations will restart. In the article “Moscow and Berlin Began Delineation Mission in the Transdniestrian Settlement” the RTA authors are analyzing the approach, which is planned for the first time to be tested in the Serbian-Kosovo settlement. The delineation principle, in their opinion, can be tested by Berlin and Moscow in the unrecognized Transdniestria, but not in a territorial sense, but in terms of authority. As an example there is success of the negotiation process on the Moldovan-Transdniestrian settlement – Transdniestria and Moldova made a number of counter-compromises, while recognizing each other’s powers in certain spheres. At the same time, there are no sensitive political issues for both sides, which neither Tiraspol nor Chisinau are ready to discuss. At the same time, this approach allows Transdniestria to gradually ‘legalize’ itself in international law, while simultaneously addressing humanitarian problems that have arisen as a result of the Moldovan-Transdniestrian conflict. The symptom of some new advancement around Transdniestria is the general intensified attention of the continental diplomacy to the dialogue between Tiraspol and Chisinau. So, according to the photo in the Internet resources of the unrecognized republic, the procedure for handing over of the first neutral license plates by Mr. Frattini was attended by the leaving US ambassador James Pettit, the head of the European Union mission in Chisinau, Peter Michalko and, most importantly, the new Russian ambassador to Moldova, Oleg Vasnetsov. The latter has already visited Transdniestria, and visited Tiraspol on the day of celebration of another “Independence Day”. Some colleagues from the RTA consider this step of the ambassador as an opaque signal of Moscow before the meeting between the leaders of Transdniestria and Moldova, Krasnoselsky and Dodon. These signals may also include the subsequent meeting of the Transdniestrian leader with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak and even the fact that Oleg Vasnetsov today, when the first neutral license plates were handed over in Tiraspol, held another meeting with the leader of Transdniestria as reported by the official website of Krasnoselsky. There is an increased attention of Moscow to the region – along with the growing role of Germany in the settlement process. Experts believe that the totality of diplomatic contacts on the Transdniestrian case can promise a rapid emergence of some new combination of approaches to the settlement. Most likely, already at the turn of 2018-2019, the circle of its co-authors will finally be identified.